By Simone Preuss on June 09, 2011

Graffiti artists, take note: Really cool stuff can be made from old spray cans! The objects shown here are both functional and stylish! Shout-outs to the makers!

Image: Graffiti Artform, used with permission

Spray cans have never been easy on the environment, but at least since the Montréal Protocol in 1989, environmentally adverse chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been replaced by alternatives like propane, n-butane and isobutane gases, which are kinder on the ozone layer.

Image: Zek, used with permission

Still, one question remains: what to do with the can once its contents are depleted? As these amazing examples show, there’s a whole lot you can can do with empty spray cans — turning them into beautiful lights, decorative artworks and even furniture.

Image: Luigi Semeraro, used with permission

Yes, graffiti artists take note: Once you're done creating your latest addition to the street art canon, consider another direction for your creative energies — while finding an awesome new use for those old or discarded aerosols.

7. Can Delight

Image: Zek, used with permission

The eight-member creative collective that is Zek was formed in 2001; the Ljubljana, Slovenia-based studio specializes in advertising and design. These unique lights, called Can Delight, make full use of recycled spray cans, with incredible results.

Image: Zek, used with permission

Image: Zek, used with permission

This awesome lighting concept was Zek’s contribution to the recent Lighting Guerrilla Festival competition and was chosen among the 25 best entries. We can easily see why!

6. Spray Can Chair for Two

Image: MadC, used with permission, care of Ivan Orama

London-based graffiti artist MadC usually specializes in murals and other graffiti art pieces, which can be found all over the world. However, one day she looked at all her empty spray cans and wondered what to do with them. She stripped them of their labels, polished them and attached them to a frame, and — voilà! — the result was this incredible spray can chair for two.

Image: MadC, used with permission, care of Ivan Orama

Made using more than 100 spray cans, the chair not only looks cool, but, with its gentle curve, is also comfortable and accommodates at least two people. Perfect if they don’t want to look at each other — or if they both just want to read a book! We love it.

5. Spray Can Night Lamp

Image: Pablo, used with permission

In this next example of repurposing goodness, old spray paint cans have been used as cool lamp bases. All you need to do is peel the paper labels off (or paint them silver), and drill a hole into the top ring, plus a small one at the bottom for the wiring. Then, superglue the lamp fitting to the can. As for the shade itself, you can use do-it-yourself stencil shades like creator Pablo did to make your spray paint lamp look really unique.

4. Spray Can Vases

Image: Eyeone (left) & Bill Gallagher (right) via Crewest Gallery, used with permission

Here are two examples from the exhibition, "Canceptual," that took place in LA's Crewest Gallery, in which artists were asked to transform ordinary spray cans into objects of art. Adding functionality to this creative mix, some of them were transformed into vases, like those pictured here.

Image: Bill Gallagher via Crewest Gallery, used with permission

While the can vase, above left, by Eyeone was kept as natural (read: rust(y)ique) as possible, the one on the right by Bill Gallagher will give any bunch of flowers a “royal” touch, and is aptly called “Royal Blue.” A cool DIY project for a rainy afternoon, we think, and a great way to reuse old spray cans.

3. Krylon Desk Lamp

Image: Jake Rankin, used with permission

This cool desk lamp is made from an old Krylon spray paint can. The can’s bottom has been taken out to allow for a light bulb to be placed inside and the can light is attached to a swivel arm that clips to most surfaces.

Fittingly, the lamp’s on/off switch is the spray nozzle. When cans are reused this creatively it feels wrong to complain about the bit of graffiti that they might have been used for — especially if it was a good piece. Paint it light!

2. Spray Can Roses

Image: Graffiti Artform, used with permission

Etsy seller Graffiti Artform’s spray cans explode, but with beautiful results — out come beautiful flowers, also made of spray cans!

The 10” double-ended spray can above has a red rose — also made from 100% recycled spray cans — bursting out of its center, while the red splatters complete this decorative piece's homage to its graffiti art origins.

Image: Graffiti Artform, used with permission

This old spray can is sprouting a beautiful yellow and orange rose, while the 12” x 4” design below utilizes a full spray can, decorated with a gold and silver rose. Don’t miss the nozzle as the flower's stigma!

Image: Graffiti Artform, used with permission

There are many more amazing designs like these at Graffiti Artform’s Facebook page. Don’t miss them!

1. Spray Can Armchair and Matching Stool

Image: Luigi Semeraro, used with permission

Italian designer Luigi Semeraro created this cool armchair with matching stool completely from recycled spray cans. The creative design is a nod to his street art activities, which he draws inspiration from, especially his graffiti collaboration with other artists.

Image: Luigi Semeraro, used with permission

The limited-edition chair is made from more than 200 empty spray cans. And the design is as stunning as it is simple: The cans were attached in rows, leaving a gap for the seat. Two white wooden boards make up the sides and hold the armchair together.

Image: Luigi Semeraro, used with permission

Though mostly white in color, Semeraro has added shades of grey and thus achieved a rather elegant look. The back of the armchair shows the effect nicely, somehow giving the impression that instead of spray cans, spools of yarn in different colors were used — until you see how the seat was made!

Image: Luigi Semeraro, used with permission

The armchair and stool were on display at Milan Design Week 2011. We’re hoping for further designs that can be customized with your own spray cans and colors. Popular with any graffiti artist, we’re sure!

Image: Luigi Semeraro, used with permission

As a bonus entry, we’ve got these adorable spray can zapatistas, below. They’re made of three old spray cans, stripped of any reference of their former life, and redecorated nicely with creative patterns, buttons, paper arms, scarves and guerrilla masks. Nice!

Image: elizalO

With so much creative genius at play, we're in awe of how the once demonized aerosol spray can can be turned into something so useful and steeped in style. All it takes is the right can-do attitude!

Additional sources: 1, 2

About the author

Simone is a writer and editor at Environmental Graffiti, an innovative green site currently looking for writers! Imagine having your work seen by up to 10 million people every month, writing for one of the Internet’s most trafficked environmental websites and getting paid for it. Whether it is extreme sports, conservation, art or freaky nature that floats your boat, Environmental Graffiti gives you a platform and a voice to share your knowledge, and meet people like you. You control the news, the news does not control you...

Learn more about Simone Preuss


There are no comments for this post yet

Articles by Simone Preuss

Natural Landscapes Recreated in Junk

By Simone Preuss on September 21, 2011

Environmental artist Tom Deininger upcycles old, unwanted junk on a truly grand scale.

Cute Little Robots Created from Retro Household Junk

By Simone Preuss on September 16, 2011

Discover how a bit of grinding, drilling and riveting can transform a pile of rusting parts into wonderful recycled junk robots with their own personalities.

Human Bodies Created Out of Dissected Typewriters

By Simone Preuss on September 15, 2011

Reduce, reuse, reassemble seems to be artist Jeremy Mayer’s recycling motto. He dissects salvaged typewriters and forms astonishingly lifelike sculptures.

Reuse Articles

Current News

Non-Profit in San Diego Teaches Recycling & Art to Local Students

By 1-800-RECYCLING on March 31, 2015

Art FORM is teaching young students and the San Diego community to look at recyclables in a new light.

3 Food Companies Making an Eco-Friendly Splash

By 1-800-RECYCLING on March 30, 2015

Some companies see "green" and "eco-friendly" as handy marketing buzzwords, but we highlight three food companies that demonstrate what it means to go green.

Recycling Profile: Phoenix

By 1-800-RECYCLING on January 16, 2015

One of the country's largest curbside recycling programs is found in Phoenix, where the city is taking new measures to reach a 40% diversion rate goal.